One decision that changed me as a wife

When I said I do to my husband at the ripe age of 19, I was insecure of myself as an emerging woman and distrusting of men.

Never thinking I was pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough or simply – enough – I used to watch my husband when he didn’t think I was looking when other pretty women were around. Whether passing a Victoria’s Secret store in the mall, standing in the checkout line at the grocery store or stopping at a red light, I was always on high alert, not because of him…because of me.

In my heart, I was constantly testing him. I didn’t say a word, but I was always looking and waiting for my fears to be confirmed.

Twenty-five years later, I did something that surprised me.

We were in a large bookstore, waiting on our teenagers to finish browsing. My man and I meandered to the magazines. I was interested in cooking, travel, etc. He was interested in cars.

What comes with cars? Women. Women scant-fully dressed, selling sex as much as selling cars.

Over the years, this is when my palms started sweating. This is when I watched him out of the corner of my eye, waiting for my fears to be confirmed.

Oh but this day was different. I casually walked ahead of him, beating him to the magazine racks. Quickly scanning the selection, the car magazines with provocative women were there just I as I suspected.

I quietly walked over to them and turned them over.

Then I proceeded to the cooking and travel magazines as if nothing happened.

What was different this time? Was I being proactive in fear that he may catch a glance and lose all interest in me? Was I being paranoid that this would be the day he would look for visual pleasure elsewhere? Would this be the day all of my twenty-five plus years of insecurity, inferiority, and self-deprecating secret thoughts would be proven right publicly?

Why did I do this without a second thought?

For one, my husband has never done anything that would make me fear all of the worst. He won’t even watch a bra commercial. Trust me, I know. I’ve watched him countless times–because I was watching, testing. He fast-forwards romantic scenes in PG-13 movies. He has literally told me that he will spend his entire life proving to me that he is faithful to me.

But you know what? There is another reason. One that is even bigger than his noble character.

I’ve changed as a wife.

Wives are helpmates, and I realized after all these years I wasn’t helping him navigate the minefield of everything sexual this broken world offers. Instead, I’ve been testing him out of paralyzing, unsubstantiated fear.

How doubly difficult for him it must have been all these years to not only have an insecure wife, but a wife who won’t trust him, not because of who he is, but because of who she believes she is.

He’s been fighting this battle alone. Where was his helpmate? Retreating in the shadows, biting her nails, watching and waiting for him to fail, simply because that is the reputation of other men.

I’ve decided to help him and stop testing him. I’ve grown up enough to understand the God-given teamwork of marriage and to get over my own insecurities.

It’s amazing how many other ways this this has changed me as a wife. I am now intentionally looking for ways to share more of the load mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, etc. in areas of our marriage whereas before I was content letting him carry his load while I carried mine.

I surprised myself at the ease and confidence in which I turned over those magazines. A fighter raised up in me that said, You’re not doing this to my man, with strength I didn’t know I had.

Since that day, I continue to change. I am growing stronger as a woman as I understand who I am in Christ, who I am to my husband and who I am in my own skin.

Although my man has never given me one reason to worry, a sense of protection has raised up in me. Not a territorial, jealous woman. Rather, a woman who believes in fighting for who she loves.

I am protective for him, not of him.

He is a grown man and I am a grown woman. We will make our own decisions about our respective lives. But together, we are a force to be reckoned with as I have finally opened my eyes to see that instead of watching over his shoulder at his every move, I am standing with him, back-to-back, watching over him. There is a difference.

It is no coincidence that both the website Ashley Madison and the movie War Room are making headlines at the same time. There is a battle for every soul, marriage, family, church, community, city, and state in this country.

One of my favorite Scriptures is the account of Nehemiah spear-heading the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall. Read it, slowly, in the context of fighting for rebuilding and strengthening marriages (from chapter 4)…

But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.

10 Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”

11 Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.”

12 Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”

13 Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. 14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

15 When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work.

16 From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.

19 Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”

21 So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. 22 At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and as workers by day.” 23 Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.

The battle is raging for our marriages and families. Turning over those magazines was a huge push-back against the enemy because I finally realized that my husband and I are on the same team, and have been all along. I was just too insecure to see it.

Fight for your marriage with faith, love and absolute resolve. Being on God’s team, we’re not in this alone. He goes before, and fights for, His children.

Ephesians 6:10-18 – The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Photo credit here

The relationship of lifelong love

I often see the same senior couple walking when I exercise. What strikes me about them is that they are always holding hands. Not just a loose touch, but a firm grip on one another. I am captivated and curious as to why.

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This particular morning was no different. There they were, walking without words, yet holding one another. As my dog and I trailed at a distance on the same familiar path, I watched them and wondered, Why the tight grasp?

I’ve thought all along that what makes this couple hold each other’s hands so tightly was their lifelong love for each other. Hopefully so, but there is something more so subtle that if I blinked I would’ve missed it.

It isn’t only because they want to – they need to.

As they walked, each took their turn ever-so-slightly losing their balance. Time and again, I watched as one of them began to lose their footing, the other one pulled them into their side for support through the strong grasp of their hand.

It was beautiful.

This husband and wife know a truth many marriages never learn. They not only want each other, they need each other. They not only need each other, they want each other.

Too often, marriages side with one or the other: I want you, but I don’t need you. Or, I need you, but I don’t want you. In either case, the relationship is doomed to stand the valleys and victories of life.

If a marriage is based solely on wanting each other, what happens when those wants change as time passes and we change with it?

Or, what if we need each other without wanting each other? This is more of a business partnership than a marriage. People use each other up until there is nothing left.

What I saw this morning was the idea that it’s both – want and need. Not out of selfish gain, but of selfless giving. Their actions gave new meaning to the vow, To have and to hold from this day forth…

That’s a vow, and a hand, worth holding on to.

 

 

Favorite Fifteen! 15 things I love about being a wife

I had so much fun last week writing about the simple pleasures and pure joy of being a mom. Today, I want to give a shout out for some of the reasons I love being a wife.

15 things I love about being a wife

*  After 22 years of marriage, I am still learning new things about my husband and myself.  Life is never boring!

*  I can say anything to him, but because I love and respect him, I watch what I say and how I say it.

*  Wading through the sea of parenting together.  We pool our strengths and weaknesses together and, hopefully, create a pretty cool family experience.

(Our family)

*  I love going to the movies with my man.  He’s the best movie partner!  He willingly abides by my absurdly anal and strict movie standards – no talking, no cell phones, no texting, no crunching, no slurping, no snoring, no rustling of plastic candy bags during the show – oh, and have a great time! 😉 (Who else would tolerate this??)

*  Serving with him on mission.

*  Keeping the house quiet on Saturday mornings so he can sleep in after a long workweek.

*  We can agree to disagree on the small stuff and that’s okay.

*  I have freedom to be myself with him with no walls built around me.  He has seen me at my very best and very worst and still loves me. I can let my guard down and be who I am without the fear of being rejected.  He gets my weird sense of humor, respects my boundaries, understands my weaknesses…yet still accepts me.

*  Dreaming together.

* He brings me flowers just because, on special occasions, and in remembrance of my mom’s birthday – though he never had the opportunity to meet her.  We met exactly one month after she died.

( Happy Anniversary)

*  Sharing the journey of life with my man who has promised to walk every step of the way with me till death do us part.

*  He can convince me to try new things: Thai food (yum!); snow skiing (his passion, not mine); computers (yep, years ago, he’s the one who showed me how to befriend these little monsters); driving go karts so crazy they almost kick you off the track (Ha!); a wicked-scary, fast air boat ride to see alligators up close and perhaps a little too personal (so fun!) – the list goes on.

*  We laugh with, and at, each other.  Most times we know when to do which. Ha!

*  He tells me I am beautiful – even if I have a hard time believing it.

(From the Empire State Building)

*  As a little girl, my two biggest dreams were to be married and have children.  I had other dreams – some I’ve accomplished, like graduating from college, being a published writer and traveling to Africa; and some I haven’t, like working as a photographer for National Geographic. But, my heart has always been passionate for being a wife and mother. I am reminded every day that God heard my prayer and answered it in an incredible way.

Marriage is hard. It takes work. It requires dying to one’s self, seeking the spouse’s best interest and considering the other person’s needs before my own. Many people won’t give up the control, their wants or their ambitions. I used to be that person. But, the beauty of marriage is discovered when both people put each other first. Oftentimes, this means someone has to go first. It creates a peaceful, loving atmosphere rather than dog-eat-dog. Trust and vulnerability are not easily attained in our wary world, but when God has put a man and woman together, and each of them have resolved to live by His standard, it works. Needs and wants of both people are met. Fun and intimacy are a part of regular life. We can work with each other and not against each other.  After all, in a marriage, both people are on the same team.